Fabre, Cecile, and . In Defense of Mercenarism

2010, British Journal of Political Science 40 (2010): 539-559.

Abstract: The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been characterized by the deployment of large private military forces, under contract with the US administration. The use of so-called private military corporations (PMCs) and, more generally, of mercenaries, has long attracted criticisms. This article argues that under certain conditions (drawn from the Just War tradition), there is nothing inherently objectionable about mercenarism. It begins by exposing a weakness in the most obvious justification for mercenarism, to wit, the justification from freedom of occupational choice. It then deploys a less obvious, but stronger, argument – one that appeals to the importance of enabling just defensive killings. Finally, it rebuts five moral objections to mercenarism.

Comment: This text is best used as a secondary reading for advanced war theory and military ethics.

Sherman, Nancy, and . Empathy, Respect, and Humanitarian Intervention

1998, Ethics and International Affairs 12(1): 103–119.

Abstract: This essay examines the moral attitudes that underlie commitments to humanitarian intervention. Specifically, the essay seeks to explain how respect and empathy together create the ethical imperative for humanitarian intervention. Traditionally excluded from the formal discourse on humanitarian intervention, empathy is presented as an integral component of making the “ought” of humanitarian intervention psychologically feasible.

The essay presents a slightly revised definition of empathy, in which empathy is the cognitive ability to place oneself in the world of another, imagining all of the realities, feelings, and circumstances of that person in the context of their world. This differs from the notion that feelings of empathy are limited to those with whom one shares a close relationship. The essay contends that the ability to identify with others is necessary in order to mobilize the feelings of respect for others into acts of humanitarian intervention.

Comment: Sherman presents a slightly revised definition of empathy, in which empathy is the cognitive ability to place oneself in the world of another, imagining all of the realities, feelings, and circumstances of that person in the context of their world. Useful article to compliment discussions on the humanitarian role in war.

Sherman, Nancy, and . Torturers and the Tortured

2006, South African Journal of Philosophy 25(1): 77-88.

Abstract: Patrick Lenta and Jessica Wolfendale have written two very thoughtful discussions on torture. A central question that arises in responding to these essays in terms of my recent book, Stoic Warriors, is whether ancient Stoicism affords any insights into both the propensity to inflict torture as well as the capacity to endure it. Wolfendale suggests that the learned capacity to endure torture, and in particular, becoming desensitised to pain, may be part of the psychological background that informs a willingness to inflict torture. Training in resisting torture, such as that which special operations troops typically go through, involves not only learning techniques, which can then be reverse engineered in applying torture (what some argue has happened in Guantanamo Bay), but also learning the kind of stress inoculation that makes one willing to use those techniques. In short, military training that involves torture resistance hardens one’s soul and makes one indifferent to the suffering that torture involves. This indifference, Wolfendale claims, is not unlike Stoic apathy. I want to argue, on the contrary, that Stoic apathy is substantively different. However, before making the case, I take up a number of other preliminary points raised in both papers. I conclude with some remarks about interrogation in general.

Comment: This article is useful for post ad bellum discussions in philosophy of war, in addition to being recommended additional reading for political philosophy and ethics.